Eight days on from the Blues’ opening Champions League defeat against Dinamo Zagreb, which was followed by the sacking of Thomas Tuchel, they took to the pitch on home soil needing to get their European campaign back on track.
Raheem Sterling got the first goal of the Potter era shortly after the break, a deserved goal both on an individual and a team level. But the hosts paid the price for not finishing the match off, as Noah Okafor struck with 15 minutes to go.
The Blues are now not in action until October 1, after the international break. This weekend’s scheduled clash against Liverpool has been postponed due to policing issues ahead of the Queen’s funeral.
Potter gave Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a home debut, while Sterling started in a surprise role at left wing-back and both Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly had to settle for a place on the bench.
After tributes were paid to the Queen ahead of kick-off, with the national anthem sung by the fans as the players walked out and a minute’s silence observed, the Blues made a quick start.
Mason Mount was superb and looked a constant threat, while Sterling was the most dangerous player on the pitch. On several occasions he put brilliant crosses into the box, only to see nobody in a blue shirt had made the run. He almost opened the scoring himself, as Reece James clipped a cross in, but his volley was impressively blocked.
For all the dominance on the ball and a number of dangerous moments, there were not many clear-cut chances for Chelsea and it remained goalless at the break.
That missing clinical edge took less than two minutes to arrive in the second-half. Mount whipped a low cross into the box, Salzburg made a mess of clearing it and Sterling was there to curl lovely finish into the far corner.
The Blues continued to dominate, but while it was only a one-goal lead they remained vulnerable and so it proved. Thiago Silva slid in and failed to take the ball, leaving Junior Adamu in space on the right. He played the cross into the near post, where Okafor finished with the help of a slight deflection to score for the sixth game in a row.
Hakim Ziyech very nearly scored soon after coming on, only to be denied by the feet of Philipp Kohn, as Chelsea were kept at bay and remained bottom of Group E.